Monday, December 5, 2016

Dr. Strange (2016)

Plot: Dr. Strange is a skilled neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident. He uses all of his resources to try to fix them, but nothing seems to work. Eventually he hears about a place called Kamar-Taj where he is taken in by two sorcerer; the Ancient One, and Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power and eventually agrees to teach him the ways of conjuring magic. But a former apprentice of the Ancient One called Kaecilius is threatening the way of life as he intends to open a portal that will summon the dark being Dormammu of the Dark Dimension and it's up to Dr. Strange and his new magical allies to stop him.

Sorry that this is late but I've had a lot of stuff going on around both times that I went to see this movie. Anyway as I'm sure a lot of you have heard by now, this movie once again has a lot of praises just like so many of the other Marvel movies and for the most part I agree with him. Do I think it's one of the best? I think there are a couple of considerable problems, but for the most part it succeeds in giving us a good origin story of another likeable Marvel superhero.

Let's start off with probably the most obvious positive thing about this movie; Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange. There is no debate that he makes this movie in the same way that Robert Downey jr. makes all of the Iron Man films. At times it's a little distracting knowing that he's also Sherlock and Smaug and Kahn before he was this character unlike with a lot of other superheroes in Marvel, but as far as bringing Dr. Strange into the MCU he delivers in bringing the character to life. I also really enjoy the journey that he goes through. Now to be clear, I will say one of the main problems with the movie for me personally is that we are experiencing a bit of repeats within Dr. Strange's origin story. A lot of people have pointed out by now how it's a lot like Tony Stark's journey to becoming Iron Man in how he's so cocky and self-absorbed before he experiences a tragedy that ultimately leads him to become this hero, and for the most part they're right. But at the same time you look past it because 1) Stephen Strange did start out as a very cocky and self-absorbed guy in the comics before his accident, so there's no way around that in making a movie out of his origin story, and 2) the journey that he goes through really works. What makes him stand out from Iron Man is that he isn't as quick to being fully willing to lay down his life for others. Now don't get me wrong I love how Tony Stark is quick to show that despite being this rich arrogant jerk he also has a kind heart in the first Iron Man movie, but what makes Dr. Strange's journey better in terms of giving us a growing character is that he has to overcome his arrogance, he has to overcome his selfishness and all the while his morals are challenged. In fact one of the most memorable scenes in the movie for me personally is a conversation he has with Kaecilius who sadly is not very memorable like a lot of other Marvel villains. They have a discussion on what is morally right and wrong and how there may be more to the Ancient One than she implies. The ideas that have been done before, but once again like many other cliches used in Marvel films it really works. I can see the conflict that Doctor Strange is going through and it's great to see how he's growing to become a better person which really pays off with what he does at the end of the movie.

The supporting characters are also pretty good. While you may not remember the names of the other sorcerers, you still like them. Tilda Swinton does a decent job as the Ancient One, and while the villain like I said it's not very memorable I do like some moments with him. He even has one moment with Strange before they have their serious discussion that was funny. Rachel McAdams I'm kind of back and forth with on her importance in the role. On the one hand she is rarely there and while there is a decent chemistry between her and Cumberbatch, it does feel like they could have gotten rid of her from the movie and you would have lost almost nothing. But at the same time I agree with Jeremy Jahns with his review of the movie where he points out that they use her sparingly and only in moments where it's important to the plot. So as forgettable as her character was, I'll admit that they were smart to put her in the film only when it's necessary.

The visuals in this movie are unbelievable. This movie contains some of the most surreal imagery that I have ever seen. I think Doug Walker put it best when he said that this is the kind of movie where it needs CGI. All these creative visuals that this film comes up with really gives this film a unique style as a superhero film and leads to a lot of creative action scenes. The comedy is pretty good too. They have a couple of jokes that miss, but there are still plenty other jokes that made me and the rest of the audience laugh just the way you'd expect a Marvel movie to do.

If I had any other real problems that I reluctantly have to agree with my dad when we talked about the movie, it would be that there are pacing problems with the film. It feels like with explaining the world of magic, there are some explanations that are rushed and you get the feeling that you haven't learned anything really special. At the same time however, you could make the argument that that's kind of the point and what they're trying to do with Dr. Strange's journey. He is learning how to conjure up all these different spells and weapons and gadgets and such, but the fact is he still has so much to learn it in the end so that just leaves us with hoping he will get a lot more in the sequel. Plus I still like what will they do tell us about magic; I really like how the Ancient One explains how they specifically conjure up magic or how in terms of using magic to fight the kind of grounded to mostly conjuring specific weapons and use specific gadgets to help you out of the situation. I think that's kind of a smart move given that - as far as I know from what few comics I've read containing Dr. Strange and other sorcerers, most of the action in the comics are more Harry potter-like, meaning it's mostly shooting beans out of their hands and things like that. So it's good that they grounded it so that magic is still something that we can understand in a world that has more science fiction than fantasy elements, but at the same time I hope that they can think of more creative things to do with Dr. Strange in future projects.

And that's my review for Dr. Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch give us a great performance as Stephen Strange, the supporting characters are good, the villain this weak but he has some good moments, the visuals are great, the action is a marvel to watch (no pun intended), and while there's some things that are rushed, it still gives us an interesting aspect of this particular part of the world of Marvel. Would I say that it's one of the greats Marvel films? Well... I wouldn't go that far. Like I said it has a sense repeating elements from past films and some of the world building is rushed, but it still is a good film It may not be as big as Captain America: Civil War, but hey how could you top off a film like that with another origin story? If you want a movie where Marvel really outdoes themselves, I can't say that they really did much of that apart from it's unique and surreal visual style. But if you just want to see you another good Marvel movie with all the likable characters, action and comedy that goes with it, Dr. Strange is definitely another enjoyable part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to check out.

Rating: 75%

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